Debra J. Saunders

Even Simitian noted that hands-free devices don't eliminate the distraction of talking and driving. As the PPIC report noted, "Existing studies of mobile phones and traffic safety have found that using hands-free technology is no safer than using hand-held phones while driving. It is also possible, as the former administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said, that hands-free laws 'give hands-free phones a free pass as being safe' and could encourage drivers to use their phones more, thus raising the risk of collisions."

Simitian's strongest argument is that the "already available technology that costs next to nothing" allows a driver to enjoy the utility of the cell phone -- and keep both hands behind the wheel. If the state can pass a law requiring that technology, without ending the convenience, why not pass a law that makes drivers use it? It will save lives.

And if it turns out that driver distraction is a factor in a like number of accidents despite hands-free technology, will Simitian push a bill to ban all cell phone use while driving?

"It's a nonstarter," Simitian answered. "So why even think about it?"

Debra J. Saunders

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